Millinery Experience in Mexico 2017
It's been my habit that wherever we go travelling, if there's a chance of making hats, we will go and find the source, no matter the difficulties in communications (thanks to Google and Mr Leeder for the translation!). This time, we found a Mexican milliner, Armando, who inherited his millinery skills from his grandfather who passed it on to him since he was 15. Armando explained to us that he has been perfecting his craft for over 40 years.
For the first hour at his shop in the market, he wasn't quite sure if I could handle the task as he thought it's not an easy at all, so he brought us to his studio back home to see if this Hong Kong girl would soon give up!
Once I stepped in the studio, I was totally amazed by its setting, numerous hat blocks, straw and felt capellines, vintage sewing and hat machines... it was like a Mad Hatter's Cave!! There's a half finished hat on the table, I just couldn't help to get my hands to work on it! He then noticed, this girl was serious and not playing around! After a day and a half (non stop blocking, steaming and sewing!!), we became friends, talked about life, work, travel... he even offered me to stay for a year to learn all his millinery secrets!
It's always nice to meet the milliners around the world to study their skills and culture, hope that one day, I could really move to Mexico for a month to work with him, or alternatively, taco making classes would not be a bad idea too?
Bess L x
Millinery Experience in Bolivia 2016
The Leeders have been busy travelling in the year of 2016! Having just returned from our trip of Central Asia and Eastern Europe a couple of months back, we hit the road again in November. After spending a month in Argentina, now we are in Bolivia! This country is full of vibrant colors and life! Some might say England is the nation of hats, frankly, I will vote for Bolivia! Almost 90% of the ladies I met on the streets are wearing bowlers or fedora hats! I was determined to hunt down the source of these lovely creations and after getting past the language barrier of with my exaggerated body movements, we finally found a local milliner, Freddie, who was only too willing to teach me how to make hats in their traditional way! Yayyyy!
Thank heavens for Google translate and Mr Leeder for some interpretation, the class went super well. I was amazed by Freddie's creativity that transformed simple household utensils into functional tools for making those classic hats! Felt so grateful that I could learn hat making skills in the Bolivian way, and you know what? Bess Leeder Wardrobe is going to launch a collection next year, inspired by the beautiful ladies and my encounters in Bolivia! Needless to say, hats will be part of the collection! Stay tuned chicas!
Bess L x